Movie Review: Judy

If there was ever a handbook written to instruct someone who chooses a life in the spotlight, either as a famous singer, actor or social media celebrity it would include the realization that having talent is a small part of the equation of being famous. You also need the courage to stand in front of a huge audience and perform. You need very thick skin to ignore the cruel critics and the hecklers. You need to be able to deal with long periods of time when you are not performing and are either traveling to another performance or killing time in yet another bland and depressing Hotel room. You need to handle your finances and never overspend, or worse, never marry the the wrong person or persons and then lose a fortune in a divorce. In the case of Judy Garland, she was married an incredible 5 times.

None of this has ever been easy for anyone who has tried to make it in show business and for Judy Garland, her career started at the very young age of 2. Then she was handed off to the Hollywood studio system when in the 30’s and 40’s, the big studios owned and manipulated all of their actors like they were commodities. With Judy Garland, these same Hollywood executives also hooked her on drugs, that followed her for the rest of her life. After watching the biopic “Judy” starring Rene Zellweger, I remember thinking that just like Whitney Houston, Judy Garland would have been far better off just being an average singer and actor, rather than the global star she eventually became. The reason is, just like Whitney Houston, Judy Garland was not equipped to deal with the stress and the many downsides of being hugely famous. What good is potential fame and fortune, when you die at a young age?

Almost exactly like Whitney Houston, who died of a drug overdose at age 48, Judy Garland died of a drug overdose at age 47 while in the bathroom of a Hotel room. Both of these two tragic deaths at young ages, could have been avoided if there was someone there who cared enough to manage their careers. The other reason is both women married the wrong men, especially in the case of Garland who married Sydney Luft, who then gambled away a good part of her money.

As far as the movie Judy, the only reason to see it is to see the great performance of Rene Zellweger, who is practically a shoe-in for winning the Academy award this year for best actress. I was surprised at the lack of a real story in Judy as most of this film deals with the last few months of Judy Garland’s life and most specifically with her final series of concerts in London England. There are many scenes showing her erratic performances in London, including some where she was drunk and cursed at the audience. The last few years of Garland’s life were the most difficult due to severe money problems that even included being almost homeless with the two children she had with Sydney Luft.

The high ratings for Judy of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes are exclusively about Zellweger’s performance and not about the mostly dull story, and I agree with this rating and recommend this film.

Movie Review: Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice

“Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” is a documentary about the life career and great talent of Linda Ronstadt. With all documentaries and movies about a life in show business, depicting the life of a professional singer, whether or not you have enough talent to ever make it, can be extremely daunting. A successful career in show business is all about gambling with your life and if you fail, you will have to live through many difficult years. We always hear about the few who make it who are always prevalent on TV, movies or social media, but we never hear about the thousands who never give up on their dream, travel the world desperately trying to succeed within a field that very often can be impossible to navigate.

The thing about someone like Linda Ronstadt is, her voice was so rare and powerful that there was no way she could not have made it as one of the best female singers of all time. While watching this documentary I could only wonder how she could have sang in so many concerts, recordings and practice for that many years and did not overuse her voice long before it was finally lost when she contracted Parkinson’s disease in August 2013. While watching this documentary, you just cannot help but admire Linda’s work ethic and sacrifice for so many years.

Ronstadt’s family and Mexican heritage was all about singing, and she developed a strong talent and love for music very early in her life. For someone with this level of talent, becoming a singer who travels the world seemed her destiny from birth. Due to her choice to become a famous singer who travels the world, Ronstadt’s personal life suffered and she was never married or had children. Her most publicized relationship was with the Governor of California, Jerry Brown and she was even engaged to director George Lucas. Now 73 years old and suffering with Parkinson’s, Linda Ronstadt can look back on her great career with satisfaction and pride. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

This documentary was very well done and includes appearances of many of Linda Ronstadt’s friends in show business, including Dolly Parton and Bonnie Raitt. I highly recommend this film.

Movie Review: Downton Abbey

The simple logline for “Downton Abbey” is: “A huge Hotel/Mansion in the 1930’s is surprised when the King and Queen of England decide to stay there for a few days”. How an idea this trivial has been made into a 2 hour movie is a mystery to me. There are a few side stories along the way to the coma this film creates and they are all equally boring. Downton Abbey was a TV show that ran from 2011-2016 – a show that I never watched and considering how bad this movie was, I never will. I am at a loss to figure out why this movie has such high ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. My only theory is – people are very curious about the lives of Royalty and the extremely wealthy, so it doesn’t matter if there is not much of a story or no story at all.
This movie was a nightmare to sit through that involved constantly checking my watch and even taking the risk of turning on my cell phone. This movie is so boring, with so little story that its almost impossible to even review. In summary, run from this trivial and boring waste of 2 hours.